Tips on writing a card to a friend or family member suffering with mental health issues

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Creating a Moment of Intervention. . .

Want to send a card? Not sure what to say? You’re not alone.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell which of our well-meaning comments will be helpful and which may actually hurt more than they help.  Below are some guidelines from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance for letting someone know you’re there if they are suffering from a mental health disorder. 

Put the statements into your own words, the most important thing is that your friend or loved one knows you’re there, and that they have your support.

WHAT HELPS WHAT HURTS
I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings. It’s all in your head.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help. We all go through times like this.
You are important to me. Your life is important to me. You have so much to live for – why do you want to die?
Tell me what I can do now to help you. What do you want me to do?
I can’t do anything about your situation.
You might not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change. Just snap out of it.
Look on the bright side.
You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.
Talk to me. I’m listening. Here’s my advice…
I am here for you. We will get through this together. What’s wrong with you?
Shouldn’t you be better by now?

 Source: http://www.campusmindworks.org

Instagram intro GJW x thortful + Chasing the stigma

Gary James McQueen (nephew of the late Alexander McQueen) has collaborated with thortful to design an exclusive range of cards especially for sending to friends and family suffering with mental health issues, with the aim of bringing the subject to the forefront. All proceeds from sales of these cards will be donated to Chasing the Stigma, a charity bringing people together for a better understanding of mental health.

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Nine signs of mental health issues in friends or loved ones

Chasing The Stigma logo

Mental health is complex, often it’s not a single change but a combination. The following nine signs are not to help you diagnose a mental health issue in a friend or loved one, but instead to reassure you that there might be good reason to seek more information about your concerns.

1. Feeling anxious or worried

We all get worried or stressed from time to time. But anxiety could be the sign of a mental health issue if it’s constant and interferes all the time. Other symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitationsshortness of breath, a headache, restlessness, diarrhoea or a racing mind.

2. Feeling depressed or unhappy

Have you noticed that your friend has lost interest in a hobby you used to share? If they’ve also seemed sad or irritable for the last few weeks or more, lacking in motivation and energy or are teary all the time, these could be signs of depression.

3. Emotional outbursts

Everyone has different moods, but sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme distress or anger, can be a symptom of mental illness.

4. Sleep problems

Generally, we need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Persisting changes to a person’s sleep patterns could be a symptom of a mental illness. For example insomnia could be a sign of anxiety or substance abuse. Sleeping too much or too little could indicate depression.

5. Weight or appetite changes

Many of us want to lose a few kilos, but for some people fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could be one of the warning signs of a mental illness, such as depression or an eating disorder. Other mental health issues can impact appetite and weight too.

6. Being quiet or withdrawn

We all need quiet time occasionally, but withdrawing from life, especially if this is a major change, could indicate a mental health issue. If a friend or loved one is regularly isolating themselves, they may have depression, bipolar, a psychotic disorder, or another mental health issue. Refusing to join in social activities may be a sign they need help.

7. Substance abuse

Are you worried a loved one is drinking too much? Using substances, such as alcohol or drugs, to cope can be a sign of, and a contributor to, mental health issues.

8. Feeling guilty or worthless

Thoughts like ‘I’m a failure’, ‘It’s my fault’ or ‘I’m worthless’ are all possible signs of a mental health issue, such as depression. Your friend or loved one may need help if they’re frequently criticising or blaming themselves. When severe, a person may express a feeling to hurt or kill themselves. This feeling could mean the person is suicidal and urgent help is needed. Call Triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately.

9. Changes in behaviour or feelings

A mental illness may start out as subtle changes to a person’s feelings, thinking and behaviour. Ongoing and significant changes could be a sign that they have or are developing a mental health issue. If something doesn’t seem ‘quite right’, it’s important to start the conversation about getting help.

Chasing the Stigma is a mental health charity which aims to normalise and humanise mental illness, offering real solutions for anyone who might be struggling. They are working with thortful and designer Gary James McQueen to create greater communication for people suffering with mental health issues. Send one of Gary’s exclusively-designed cards to a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them.

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